Thursday, 10 March 2011

127 Hours (2010) - Danny Boyle

As a nipper I grew up watching all sorts of films form all different types of directors, or so I thought. Now from the comfort of my thirties I can look back and see that what they mainly had in common was the fact that visuals were priority number one in their films. From Ridley Scott through to Tim Burton and a whole host of others, it was visuals first everything else second. The thing is that with each passing year those films become less and less interesting for me. I don't think it's their fault either, after all the films they made haven't changed, it's me that's changed. I'm just no longer impressed by whiz bang visuals. In these CGI days where anything is possible part of the fun of film making has died a little. More than that though I was quite happy to just watch a film purely for what was on the screen, I didn't really need any deep meaning or sometimes even a story. If it looked great then I was happy. As I say though, not any more since I've been digging further and further back I've found that I need more than a visual feast. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good looking film, I just need that to be the backdrop for a story of some sort, something that will keep me coming back for repeat viewings long after the sight of seeing New York destroyed (yet again) has worn thin.

So with all that in mind, Danny Boyle should be a director that I hate. He throws masses of visual information onto the screen, sometimes his films look more like the kind of thing you'd expect to see projected on the walls of a 90's superclub, rather than something you'd slip into your DVD player. Not only that but he edits everything to within an inch of it's life and always slaps a huge banging soundtrack over it all. Not my cup of tea at all, and yet he hardly ever fails to drag me into his films. Unlike the Bays and McG's of this world he hangs his films on a human story, normally something the viewer can relate to, and even if you can't you still find yourself sucked in within the opening scenes. He's a bastard like that.

I would never have believed that I would enjoy Slumdog Millionaire, I remember reading that he was making a film based around Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and thought no way do I want to see that. But see it I did, and as usual by the end of the first ten minutes I was hooked. The same pretty much goes for this film, some extreme sports type dude gets trapped in a crevice and after a few days cuts his arm off to free himself. Why would I want to see that? As a documentary possibly, but as a Hollywood film 'Based On Real Life Events', um no ta. I'll just watch Touching the Void instead.

But of course I did see it, and the thing is as a slab of entertainment I thought it worked. I can't say that it stayed with me for weeks afterwards, but for the few hours it was on the gogglebox it did it's job. I like the whole one location thing too, Hitchcock always manged so much with that idea. Boyle approaches it in a slightly different way to the big fella, but he manages to keep you gripped for the running time nonetheless. I'm glad he didn't feel the need to cut away to other people in the way Ron Howard did during Apollo 13. So sticking with Aron Ralston (James Franco) for the whole 127 hours was a good call, and probably the thing that I liked most overall about the film.

But what you really want to know about is that scene isn't it? Well it's painful to watch, but then it should be shouldn't it. It's not over in a flash, and the sound design is immaculate, not as traumatic as you'd think but pretty grim all the same. I did almost chew off my bottom lip whilst watching it though, so maybe it's a little more horrendous than I'm remembering. James Franco who I only really knew as the wooden actor behind Harry Osborn in the Spiderman films, is actually quite good. He's got a way to go before he hits Daniel Day-Lewis standards, but in this he proved he can at least act.

So Boyle together with cinematographers Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak go all out, zooming the camera hundreds of feet up into the air, forcing it deep into a water bottle, there are split screen effects, slow motion, blurred shots and just about any other kind of camera technique you care to mention. Does it do anything for the film? Not really. I think it does more for the audience if truth be told. After all how many punters would go and see this without all the above and not get bored? Word of mouth would be terrible, and the name of the game at Boyle's level is bums on seats. But I'm not complaining since as I said I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

Boyle usually ends his films with a euphoric song (something he's done since Trainspotting), and this film is no exception. It's a shame since what should have been an emotional ending is handled badly by having a huge fuck off Sigur Rós track pounding across it. We should have stayed in Ralston's head, after all we had been with him throughout the film. But there you go - what do I know?

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...